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The O’Toole Chronicles: Living a Long Life

I saw an interview the other day and they highlighted Grace Lepane’s 107th birthday. Grace was asked for her key to living this long and her answer was simple – “Stay happy.” I can only imagine that’s easier said than done.

In this day and age, it’s getting harder and harder for people to stay happy. Whether it’s Covid, rising political tensions, worries about the economy, deep concerns about a world war, professional jealousy, rising cost of living, job security, our children, social media pressures, political correctness or something else, there seem to be more hurdles coming up stand the direct path to happiness.

Where do we turn for help?

I have long believed that if you have any problems, you should consult an expert in this field. Despite the fact that the internet has tried its best to make experts out of all of us, the reality is that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. If you have a leak in your kitchen sink, call a plumber. If you have a problem with a legal matter, contact an attorney. If you’re dealing with a nagging medical problem, consult a medical professional (not WebMD). Similarly, when we seek the truth about how to stay alive longer, we go to those who survived them all.

I did a little research on the internet and found a number of articles giving different advice. One article profiled 10 seniors who lived to be over a hundred years old, and each offered some advice. Here’s a short list of the ten, with some succinct takeaways and advice:

  • Ralph Burgess Tarrant (110 years old): Enjoy the vices as well as many of the virtues. Stay active and interested;
  • Reg Deen (110 years old): During a pre-WWII trip to India, Reg did a favor for a local. In return, the local resident gave Reg a muddy drink and said drink this and you’ll live to be at least 100 years old. Reg credits this strange brew with helping him live to the age of 110;
  • Jiroeman Kimura (116 years old): Pretty direct advice – eat smaller portions;
  • Jeanne Louise Calment (122 years old): The oldest person on record smoked 2 cigarettes a day for 100 years. She drank port every day and ate up to two pounds of chocolate a week;
  • Christian Mortensen (115 years old): Live a good, clean life, filled with friends, pure water, the occasional fine Danish cigar, no alcohol and lots of singing;
  • Besse Cooper (116 years old): Don’t eat junk food and mind your own business;
  • Susannah Mushatt Jones (116 years old): Don’t drink, never party, eat eggs, grits and 4 bacon strips every day;
  • Emma Morano (116 years): Eat 3 eggs a day, have a positive attitude, drink brandy daily and occasionally eat chocolate;
  • Fred Hale Sr. (113 years old): Eat raw honey daily and occasionally drink a whiskey;
  • Emiliano Mercado del Toro (115 years old): “Funche” is the key to a long life. Funche is a mixture of cooked cod, cornmeal and coconut milk.

Well, we’ve heard from the experts and you should feel free to choose the advice that suits you best from each (My personal favorite was Besse Cooper). The reality is that only one in 5,000 live to be 100 years old. Two out of 100,000 women will celebrate their 110th birthday and 2 out of a million men will celebrate their 110th birthday.

We should finish where we started, we are on this earth for a time and we should BE HAPPY while we are still standing. We should strive to be happy every day and look forward to jumping out of bed energized for the exciting possibilities of the new day. The sad truth is that we all know people who are bitter, disillusioned, or just plain unhappy with their lot in life. We should all take our positions and work to improve what we don’t like. Life is for the living and we need to surround ourselves with positive forces and people while avoiding the throwers who love to spread their misery.

Well, as Besse Cooper said, I’ll mind my own business, but it’s a new year – be happy!

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